Sunday, February 14, 2010

I don't look like a Terrorist

Airport security forces frighten me. I travel a lot. Far more frequently than chance they separate me out for intensive inspection. I am not a terrorist. I am aware when they do this that they are making a mistake. If a doctor cuts off the wrong leg, we get a little concerned and certainly curious about his skill and training.

I do not look like a terrorist either. My brother and I were fascinated in Japan that the airport security there consistently selected out the 'gringos' from the group despite the fact that the greatest terrorist killers had been Japanese.

This observation made me realize that the security forces are acting predominantly based on their predjudices and general lack of education and experience.

In medicine there is a standard idea of 'false positives' and 'false negatives'. A 'false positive' is when your test indicates a disorder where there isn't one and a 'false negative' is when the test says alls well and it isn't.

I really don't believe the security forces are subject to much scrutiny. Certainly not scientific scrutiny. The 'false negatives' are what we read about in the newspapers. Horrendous errors of security in which people rather obviously threaten the security of millions despite literally billions of dollars and a standing army of people who predominantly interfere in the business, communication and transportation of the country with very little oversight in terms of their actual efficacy. There's a rule that says they are 'preventative' but are they?

As a doctor I'm criticized for doing 'too many tests'. I'm outside the 'norms' for my group so am threatened with loss of income and very clearly encouraged to do less tests even though my deviation from my group norm is a product of the practice I have which has a very sick group who don't use doctors and individually and collectively are at high risk for disease. Of the last 6 MRI's I ordered 3 were positive for undiagnosed brain tumors and injuries. That said, I'm terrified ordering more medical tests fearful of being penalized for what really is very conscientious and highly educated and experienced behavior. Much less educated and much more junior people rarely encounter the kind of scrutiny that medical specialists are subjected to these days.

It's that lack of 'fairness" that comes to mind when I am again pulled aside and man handled, stroked and delayed. I know that I will soon be of an age where such caresses by these sexually charged and aggressive young people are actually welcome but right now they scare me. I am convinced by their ignorance in their excessive attention to my shoes for instance that they're missing the real terrorists. Terrorists don't look like me. They dress to fit in. They wear three piece suits. They actually try to dress like off work airport security personnell and police because that's obviously where the real blindspots are. Terrorists are most likely to look like police or airport security.

I look like a typical tall bespectacledlong haired geriatric educated middle class pot bellied Canadian professional who wears a Harley Davidson cap and carries a shopping bag of 2010 Winter games hockey tshirts for his nephews. Terrorists don't look like me. How can these people be so far off the mark? Given how highly paid they are and how much money is being spent on security is it not about time that there is some oversight.

I run this by my police security friend and he says, "You would have been right a year a go but last year a psychiatrist was a terrorist."

"But he was middle eastern and military and young." I countered.

"He was a psychiatrist." my friend said.

And it turns out that a disproportionate number of psychiatrists are geriatric, pot bellied, long haired and for some unknown reason wearing Harley Davidson fashions this year. I could be 'profiled' as a psychiatrist.

Now, none of us are likely terrorists even though I have thought some of my older exerciseaholic vegetarian female colleagues would be less frightening if they went back to eating little meat and confessed about their occasional chocolate binges.

It may be that the security forces are at the cutting edge. After talking to my friend I'm still going to be grumpy about taking off my shoes but maybe the young guy recognised me as a psychiatrist. Maybe someone is being scientific about this whole terrorism business.

Thanks to one psychiatrist idiot in our midst our group got listed with the most wanted criminals. That's the way my moslem professor friend feels about the assholes who keep getting him strip searched at airport terminals.

It's easy to forget that the terrorists are the ones that cause all the inconvenience. It's what they want. Only in chaos and disorder can the psychopaths and sociopaths get ahead.

The airport security forces are my friends. Terrorists aren't.

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